Well, the sun came up again today in Charlottesville Virginia. Quite a lovely morning. The last warm rays of summer are shining down. The leaves are just beginning to change color. The goldenrod is in full bloom as we await the first frost of the Fall season. It’s nice.
But 90 miles to the north we are told the world is ending. The government has shut down. Didn’t we notice? Aren’t we concerned? How will life go on?
I barely noticed. I am not concerned. Life will go on just fine.
First the government hasn’t “shut down.” The Navy didn’t just pull over the USS Eisenhower and give everyone leave. The government is still “open,” it’s just working at a reduced capacity. And I am just fine with that. Much of America is just fine with that.
Only “essential” federal workers are reporting to work, less than 10% of the governmental workforce. This begs the question, why do we pay for the other 90%? Is the US government really 90% fat?
That’s probably about right.
Since World War I, and it should also be noted the advent of the Federal Reserve system, the government has grown ever larger. In 1900 the government constituted less than 7% of the US economy (the tail end of perhaps the most productive period ever for this country) now it is at around 40%. The government is an ever growing blob of red tape and waste. It takes from the productive part of the economy and feeds its insatiable appetite. Leviathan is never satisfied. It will eat until it consumes everything.
This is why I, and many other Americans, shrug when we hear that the government has “shut down.”
Here’s a compromise, keep things going at the current “shutdown” levels and let everyone else go. Imagine a 90% reduction in the size of government. It would do wonders for our economy and would get us primed for the new and much more dynamic world ahead of us.
But what of the laid off federal workers? Wouldn’t that be a shock to the economic system?
Of course, but we could let them all go over the next 5 years in stages. Give them a nice severance and then send them out into the big wide world.
There is no doubt that life would get much harder for many government workers. But there are a lot of smart people working in government who would be more efficiently utilized in the private sector. Instead of doing the “meeting circuit” which any federal worker will tell you is often a big part of how they pass the time, these people could be out starting businesses and making the world a better place. Some of the best software people in the world work for the US government. Turn them loose on the marketplace. Amazing things will happen.
Many of these workers are relatively wealthy already. The average total compensation for a federal worker is over $120,000. They should have saved some. With a bit of severance there are worse employment situations to find oneself in.
But it is a harsher world outside the bosom of the Beltway than most government workers are used to. The mere thought that they could lose their job at all, under any circumstance, is bewildering to many who exist within the federal worker bubble.
If you think I’m kidding I am not. I’ve known plenty of folks in government agencies, many of them fine upstanding people, who think they are entitled to a job courtesy of the taxpayer – for life. The whole bureaucratic part of the city (that is most of the city) operates under this assumption.
And that’s why there has been so much wailing this week. The bureaucracy, Leviathan, cannot believe that it is being denied in any way. “How dare they ‘shut down’ the government. I’ve got a BMW payment to make!”
That’s what all this nonsense is about. That and that most government workers know they have a good thing going and they can’t (really would just prefer not to) conceive of a world in which the cold winds of the marketplace ever buffet their federally fattened behinds. The wealthiest city in the US is Washington DC largely because of federal workers and federal contractors. These folks don’t want government reduced ever. Heck they don’t even want Americans thinking about ending federal programs.
The reason government workers don’t want America even thinking about Leviathan, about the writhing pulsing, growing, blob of red tape is because they know that America might just wake up and realize that for the most part she is much better off without Leviathan.
If America ever figures this out on a wide scale the Beltway party might be up. And no one ever wants a party to end.
Except the people paying for the party.